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Barrie's revised official plan focuses on building homes, protecting environment, increasing employment lands

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Forty-five days ago, Ontario launched a review of changes made to several municipalities' official plans approved by the previous housing minister in the wake of the Greenbelt Scandal.

Of those municipalities is the City of Barrie, which has completed its internal review and sent a revised plan back to the Ford government.

The new revisions would see the city emphasize protecting critical environmental lands, like the area around Lake Simcoe, while also creating more affordable homes for families in the city.

"The environmental measures that were in the original plan with regards to access to water, use of water, those types of things, needed to be respected and needed to be put back into the original official plan," said Alex Nuttall, Barrie Mayor. "We also had a lot of input from the development and building community, saying you don't have to revert back on all these things, with some components that will help them build homes faster."

However, one significant new plan component is expanding the city's employment lands. The mayor is asking the Ford government to reassess Barrie's boundaries with Oro-Medonte and Springwater to develop more industrial areas.

Despite opening talks with each township, neither has been warm to Barrie's request.

"We are out of industrial land, we need more, and we've asked the province to step in," Mayor Nuttall said. "Battery plants are being built, the EV industry is starting to transform in Ontario, the auto industry, all the spinoff jobs that would exist for the city of Barrie, these are really important things."

The revisions were sent to the Province Wednesday night and are now in Ontario's hands to determine what will stay in and what requests will be met.

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